Working from home? Switch to the DIGITAL edition of Projection, Lights & Staging News. CLICK HERE to signup now!

Why We Must Gather

Chris Lose • January 2022 • January 5, 2022

Illustration by John Sauer – www.johnsauer.com

I just returned from four days of LDI 2021. Being present and attentive at LDI is a challenge for me. I can get overwhelmed at the amount of new gear to see, places to go, and people to meet up with. There is never enough time to walk the entire floor, explore each new fixture, and give each person the amount of time that they deserve. This year was different. Because of the pandemic restrictions, this year was much more intimate than previous years. While on the show floor, I had time to reflect on the importance of industry gatherings. At LDI, I am amongst my people and most of them get me. We are all in the same boat. We can commiserate. We can share war stories. In short, we are all theater nerds who have a safe space to share similar interests and give each other support. Here are some events that we might consider making time for—safely and in person—in the upcoming year.

The 2022 NAMM Show

NAMM is the global gathering to unify and support the people who bring music to the world. Attending NAMM allows us to meet with clients in a collaborative atmosphere. It’s one place where we can show off new technology to the musical artists who would normally have very little idea of what we are talking about. We can meet up on the show floor, walk them to a manufacturer’s booth and show them exactly how new technology can help them amplify their message. Likewise, they can tell us about new tools they have found and ask our advice. The last time I was at NAMM, I walked one of my clients right into a booth to show them that the LED revolution was already in full swing. I was able to show him how we could get more lighting fixtures while using less power and promote an eco-friendlier way of touring. Outside of NAMM, I would have had to wait for his schedule to clear up for a demo and hope that he cared about what I wanted to show him. Meeting up on the show floor was an easy way for us to meet up in a mutually beneficial space to share ideas. The 2022 NAMM Show will take place June 3-5 at the Anaheim Convention Center in Anaheim, CA. Another networking opportunity, the Parnelli Awards, takes place June 3 in partnership with NAMM.

LDI Show 2022

LDI is not so much for our clients as it is for us. We are lighting geeks who like to talk about lighting minutia. We don’t have to explain to one another why RGBW is so much better than RGB. We don’t have to explain why we can’t tolerate fixtures that don’t have color mixing. LDI is one of the few places that we can gather around a console and go over every unsuccessful keystroke that cost us hours of programming time. We can speak directly to the manufacturers who can help us save time, develop new strategies, and syncopate workflows. I have had the pleasure of meeting and interacting with industry icons that I would rarely have access to in the field. On the show floor, simply by attending their panels, I was able to ask questions that solidified my desire to enter the touring world. Personally, I have never directly received a job on the show floor, but several of my colleagues have been offered gigs on the spot. LDI Show will take place at the Las Vegas Convention Center, November 14-20, 2022. If Las Vegas is too far to travel, consider attending Prolight + Sound 2022 during April 26-29 at the Messe Frankfurt fairground in Germany.

Master Classes

In a world of digital tutorials, in-person classes are still the best way to learn and connect with leading professionals. There are too many Master Classes offered to list all of them, but when in-person training comes to your town, make sure to sign up. Master Classes are often set up in a way allowing a small group of aspiring professionals to sit at a console and soak up the knowledge of leading industry experts. There is no substitute for face-to-face interactions. I met Vickie Claiborne at a Wholehog II training session. It was a brief one-day course on the console offered at a Master Class in New York. While using the console, I could email her directly and get responses in real time. That kind of support does not come from a manual or an online tutorial. She has been a mentor of mine ever since. Seeing her face on a screen will never compare to being able to give her a hug, ask about her well being and get straight into the education.

Event Safety Summit 2022

This event is more important than ever before. Before 2001, we took our lumps in a hard way. We lost people to avoidable mistakes. Our carelessness cost lives, and we saw a need for reform. By 2011, we realized that we needed to regulate the safety of our own industry before someone else tried to do it for us. The toppling of the main stage at the Indiana State Fair made it clear that we needed to make changes and we needed to do it now. It was the third weather-related outdoor roof collapse in North America in just three weeks, preceded by events in Tulsa, OK and Ottawa, Ontario. Instead of pointing fingers at event organizers, crowd managers, roof technicians, and weather forecasters, we took it upon ourselves to meet up and devise universal guidelines to prioritize safety. These universal codes and standards require input from every facet of our industry. It is up to all of us to speak up about unsafe working conditions that we have endured and how we can alleviate such situations. The Event Safety Summit 2022 is set for March 22-24 at Rock Lititz in Lititz, PA.

Online is Not Enough

In the digital age, online gatherings have accumulated much more validity than they truly deserve. Don’t get me wrong, they are a powerful tool in our tool belt. Zoom meetings have given us the power to collaborate while in-person meetings were impossible. They are cheap, easy, and convenient. They will never have the power to replace real connections. Real life meetups provide us with the personal contact that is the basis of our industry. Face-to face communication allows for a better exchange of information since both speaker and listener can see and interpret body language and facial expressions. Trust isn’t built over a text message. A colleague or client who never shakes your hand is unlikely to feel the same connection to you as someone whose hand you shake on a regular basis. Let’s meet up safely to build bonds when we can in 2022.